Do you sometimes feel swallowed up by the role of being a parent? Can it, on a bad day, feel like you’ve become a shadow of your former self? Do you sometimes struggle to find the motivation to snap out of it and rather throw yourself an internal ‘pitty party’ because the ‘spark’ you once had has fizzled out a little bit? Well, YOU’RE NOT ALONE!
But here’s the good news- It won’t last, there are ofcourse many positives, it gets better and we can manage things in the meantime in order to move out of this funk…
This is not only dedicated to mothers, but to fathers alike. Raising a child is a team effort and often I feel the dads are left out as a result of the (still very present) stigma that moms do all the work. However, until I can successfully grow my own penis, I don’t see myself accurately writing from a male’s perspective, so today’s post is just me …
I love being a mom (98% of the time) and I love those little monkeys more than I love myself. But like a lot of us, I sometimes still deal with the transition from who I was before to who I am becoming today. So I did a little soul-searching, research, talked to other parents and well… Googled.
As they say “Those who don’t do, teach.” so I’ve summarized for you the things I’ve put into motion myself to try and work through my temporary ‘sad pitty bubble’ in the hopes it might help other moms or dads along the way.
- Self-Assessment: Who were you then and Who are you now.
It’s important to look at who we were before and who we are now. As our priorities and interests change constantly, it can be useful to occasionally self-evaluate and list the aspects we liked and disliked about our former selves and who we are today. Have we outgrown some of them and/or developed and mastered others? In other words, do we truly miss certain aspects of our former selves/lives or are we just feeling nostalgic?
a) What things do you miss about your former self/life?
b) Given a choice, would you want them all back?
c) Which ones could you live without today?
d) What new things have you acquired or mastered further since becoming a parent?
Even before I was a mother, I was someone who made to-do lists in her head and liked an organised life. Fast forward to a husband, two children, full time work and a household later and my mind continues to tick off and add items to my imaginary list. Being a parent has only made me better at it and it’s a skill I feel I’m mastering (well… most of the time :p
One thing I do feel I’ve lost a bit, and have struggled to get back, is my ‘spark’. You know the spark that can turn you into the life of the party, have you laughing until your belly hurts or simply the spark that shows you’re there for the people around you. I did the self-assessment to find how I lost it and the answer was quite simple … fatigue. My spark was replaces by not being as engaged in a conversation where my mind is tired and distracted. Fatigue is ofcourse nothing new, all parents live it, so it’s something to work on if I want to ‘sparkle’ again (ugh, could I sound any blonder?)
- Rock the Spice Girls and ‘Tell me What You Want, What You Really Really Want’
Now that you’ve established what you miss or the things you simply want to let go; sit down with yourself and look at every area of your life and think about what your ideal would look like. What sort of life do you want to create for yourself? What makes you happy?
a) What is it that you want in your parenting experience?
b) What do you want to put in, and get out of, your relationships?
c) What sort of relationship do you want with your children, family, etc?
d) What does your ideal work/life balance look like?
Make sure you’re specific in your answers. Saying “I want a loving relationship” is not enough, rather define what you consider to be “loving”, does it mean romantic gestures, trust, trips away, physical contact… The more specific we are in our goals, the better able we are to tell if we’ve achieved them.
Knowing what you want helps you set the general direction you need to move towards and find the information in order to get there.
- Learn the Skills to Get There
One of my favorite go-to sayings is “Sometimes losing our way is the best way to finding it”. Struggles in life don’t necessarily mean failures. They just mean we have lost our direction and haven’t learnt the skills required to get there yet (although in the moment it doesn’t always feel that way).
The skills we require differ for everyone and depend on our individual needs, goals and limitations. But seeing as our little funk of being an overwhelmed parent is the common denominator here, below are some tidbits that might just get us out of it sooner rather than later.
- It’s ok to not be on the ball every second of every day
As long as your kids have been fed, are dressed and feel loved you’re pretty much kicking butt at being a parent. Your house will get messy again within 4 minutes of cleaning it; sometimes you’ll lose your patience and yell at your kids, and not all the food you give them is homemade or fresh… “Loosen the reigns a little” (advice I need to give myself on a daily basis).
- Don’t beat yourself up for wanting some time away from the little ones
My favorite time of day is going to bed and checking in on my little (unconscious) offspring as they sleep peacefully in their own beds. Needing some alone time does not make us a bad parent. If anything, taking time to recharge my batteries only makes me a better one.
- This too shall pass
While it’s okay to wallow and have a good ol’ vent it’s important to remember that this is not forever. They will sleep better, they will let you pee on your own eventually and you’ll be able to have conversations about things other than Paw Patrol and My Little Pony.
- Communicate your needs
Many of the frustrations my husband and I have had were the result of one or both of us feeling resentful over unmet expectations. We quickly realized we had to talk about what exactly our expectations were in the first place before we could support each other and be part of a well-built team. Everyone has their own needs, but being open about them can alleviate some of the stress and let go of some of the sullenness that may have built up.
- It takes a village …
Sometimes we feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders and that we’re in this alone. We become precious about our daily tasks and can turn into ‘control freaks’ who don’t ask for help even when we might very well need it. It does take a village to raise children, so don’t be afraid to accept help when it is offered and ask for it when it’s not.
- Have a good laugh
Sometimes having a good laugh is all we need. Parenting can be ridiculous at times and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that.
- Look for the silver linings
My daughter kicked my ass the other day with constant disagreements, calling me names and just.not.listening!! I was about to pour myself a huge glass of wine as their bedtime approached when suddenly she offered to brush my hair (something she had never done before). Those last 30 minutes before bed deleted the entire crappy day that had preceded it. Focus on those good times and let the bad ones wash away.
**The above tips should help you regain some balance, fight that funk and get back on track. But if you suspect you’re clinically depressed, I encourage you to see a professional as soon as possible to get the treatment best for you.